We visit Iceland for its magnificent landscapes: mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, craggy coastlines. But for street art? Probably not; and yet its capital, Reykjavik, is a cool town with plenty of beautiful and/or interesting murals to be found.
Near the harbour we find the Loftkastalinn building, its walls adorned with giant murals mainly in black and white. These are the work of Guido van Helten, an Australian artist who undertook a residency in Reykjavik in 2014. He based his designs on photos from the Reykjavik Museum of Photography Archive which depict scenes from the Jean-Paul Sartre play ‘Huis Clos’ which was performed here in 1961. It’s an existentialist play in which the characters Estelle, Garcin and Inez are locked together in a room for eternity. The murals depict those characters, although I’m not sure about the man in sepia colours?
Nearby I found some other large pieces by different artists:
And these rather different examples of street art:
A gallery of Reykjavik street art
In fact, all over the town I found great examples of murals large and small. Many were created through a project in 2015 and 2016 called Wall Poetry, linked to the Icelandic Airwaves Music Festival, during which international artists were invited to design whole building sides of wall art inspired by the music.
So come with me on an exploration through its streets, shared for this week’s Photographing Public Art challenge.
The mural above was inspired by a famous medieval Icelandic saga called Laxdœla Saga. Although the monster looks like a vampire it is in fact a kind of Icelandic undead creature called a draugur that sucks the will out of its victims.
On one of the side streets this entire bakery is covered in murals!
Here are more of my favourites:
And finally, some birds …
I visited Reykjavik in 2018